Monday, July 17, 2006

On Saturday there was a rather spirited discussion panel called "Staunching the Hemorrage" about the "military industrial complex" ....or what some people were calling the "military industrial media complex". The panelists were Paul Hackett, Col. Anne Wright and David Swanson from and There was some disgreement, but it was interesting because I think it was an example of some of the diversity of opinion within the party. Both Hackett and Wright are career military, and Swanson is very anti-war. Everyone had good, rational arguments about the military but it got a little fiery between Hackett and Swanson.

I could see both sides, but I don't agree with everything either of them said. Swanson has a clear bias against militarism (with mostly very good reasons) and Hackett has a clear bias in favor of the military (with some good reason). He sees a lot of the problems very clearly, but he's very loyal to the Marines too. (Too loyal, imo. He's completely blind to somethings he should be able to see clearly.) When all is said and done, it was an illustration of one of the dilemmas of the party right now. There are people who are anti-militaristic AND there are people who very loyal to the military, but have left leaning social and economic views. It's a difficult issue to decide what's enough and what's too much. I mean we pretty much all know now that what's going on now is too much, but how far do you go in the other direction without compromising the military. Like it or not, it's necessary and here to stay. That said, Hackett seems to be more of a Libertarian than a Democrat, but who am I to say...

Wright is interesting too, but most of the fire was between Swanson and Hackett. More about Wright later....

One of the non controversial issues discussed:

What's happened these days in defense manufacturing is that instead of the big manufacturers who do everything from beginning to end, it's been broken up so someone in CA makes this part and someone in the midwest makes that part and someone is Podunk assembles the end product.

One of the results of that is it has spread manufacturing around a bit, but it's also put the defense industry in everyone's political district. The politicians pour money in to these businesses in their districts, and when anyone says it's less than efficient the politican can fall back on the illusion of 1) supporting a strong defense, and 2) providing jobs in their community. So it just grows and grows and grows. We build stuff the military doesn't want or need, and they don't have what they DO need. That's one reason congress decides what Pentagon wants as much as or more than the Pentagon decides what they need.


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